On the Sale and Consumption of Drugs

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hue-man
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 02:17 pm
I personally believe that selling substances that can cause harm to a person is morally permissible as long as the consumer is aware of the potential risks. Do you think that it's ethical to sell drugs such as cigarettes and alcohol even though it could harm a person's physiological and psychological health? Can the sale of these substances be justified or condemned by any of the three most common ethical systems, such as deontology, utilitarianism or virtue theory?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 02:35 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:
I personally believe that selling substances that can cause harm to a person is morally permissible as long as the consumer is aware of the potential risks.

Suppose the person is fourteen years old, though. Does your mind change?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 02:56 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;124422 wrote:
Suppose the person is fourteen years old, though. Does your mind change?


Sure it changes my mind. There's laws against selling certain things to certain people for certain reasons.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 02:59 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;124422 wrote:
Suppose the person is fourteen years old, though. Does your mind change?


Presumably it is argued that they are not aware of the potential risks. Although I think you would have to modify it for a more specific definition of "awareness". A 14 year old can be taught the facts, but the "risk taking" part of the brain is still developing in teenagers (supposedly), so one would argue that they aren't well equipped to deal with risk.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 03:10 pm
@hue-man,
Whether or not any collection of people decide to allow or prohibit such a thing should depend on the extent such would damage or enhance the individual the larger community - it's all up to them and what they collectively decide.

... and that would come down to a question of how much and what kind of damage do these pose. The more destructive to the community, the greater one should be prohibitive.

... or so I think
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 03:20 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;124430 wrote:
Presumably it is argued that they are not aware of the potential risks. Although I think you would have to modify it for a more specific definition of "awareness". A 14 year old can be taught the facts, but the "risk taking" part of the brain is still developing in teenagers (supposedly), so one would argue that they aren't well equipped to deal with risk.


Exactly my point - there are other factors at play here. Maturity, age, and influence are all factors we must consider, to name a few. We cannot simply leave it at "as long as the consumer is aware of the potential risks", can we?

We must delve into what "as long as the consumer is aware of the potential risks" really means, and more, acknowledge it is not the only important factor when determining whether someone should be held morally accountable for the sale of drugs. Even an adult, intelligible enough to be aware of the potential risks of a drug, could be considered under the influence when purchasing drugs (or anything). And, I think, as an example, it would be wrong for a person to sell drugs to such a person.

hue-man wrote:

Sure it changes my mind. There's laws against selling certain things to certain people for certain reasons.


We're speaking of ethics here, not law, aren't we? Regardless, it appears what you said in your OP is not what you personally believe. You lied to us!
 
hue-man
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 03:35 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;124438 wrote:
We're speaking of ethics here, not law, aren't we? Regardless, it appears what you said in your OP is not what you personally believe. You lied to us!


What are you talking about, Zetherin? There was a hidden point to my sentence about us having laws against selling certain things to certain people for certain reasons. My point was that I wouldn't sell those substances to a kid for the same reason that it is illegal to do so. You never answered the question I asked in the OP, though. Can you please give me your opinion?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 03:38 pm
@Zetherin,
Khethil;124432 wrote:
Whether or not any collection of people decide to allow or prohibit such a thing should depend on the extent such would damage or enhance the individual the larger community - it's all up to them and what they collectively decide.

... and that would come down to a question of how much and what kind of damage do these pose. The more destructive to the community, the greater one should be prohibitive.

... or so I think


But which is it, collective or individual? Something can be bad for the community, but still right overall, the individualist would argue.

Zetherin;124438 wrote:
Exactly my point - there are other factors at play here. Maturity, age, and influence are all factors we must consider, to name a few. We cannot simply leave it at "as long as the consumer is aware of the potential risks", can we?

We must delve into what "as long as the consumer is aware of the potential risks" really means, and more, acknowledge it is not the only important factor when determining whether someone should be held morally accountable for the sale of drugs. Even an adult, intelligible enough to be aware of the potential risks of a drug, could be considered under the influence when purchasing drugs (or anything). And, I think, as an example, it would be wrong for a person to sell drugs to such a person.


And that I think is the point where you get too broad. We don't have the state step in every time someone is not fit to make a decision, yes? The police don't come and say "break up with that girl, you are only dating her because you have low self esteem".

At a certain point we say "OK, it's up to you now to make your own decisions and mistakes, even though it may turn out badly for you".

So I think a simple addendum to the initial rule works fine. We can say, it is ok to sell substances that can cause harm, as long as the buyer is over 21 and we have public health warnings.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Tue 2 Feb, 2010 05:05 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;124416 wrote:
I personally believe that selling substances that can cause harm to a person is morally permissible as long as the consumer is aware of the potential risks. Do you think that it's ethical to sell drugs such as cigarettes and alcohol even though it could harm a person's physiological and psychological health?



Studies indicate that alcohol in moderation can be good for your cardiovascular system. (The amount is about one or two drinks per day, which cannot be saved up for a weekend binge for health benefits.) See:

Alcohol and cardiovascular disease - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1026830/pdf/westjmed00122-0062.pdf

So, if you are an ordinary adult (i.e., if you have no special health problems), and if you wanted optimum health, you would probably want to drink one or two drinks every day; no more, and no less. This makes it like other things that are good for you in moderation, but bad for you if taken in excess.


However, I have no problems with the idea that adults should be allowed to buy and use substances that can cause harm to them, provided that there are appropriate warning labels on them. If we followed this idea to its logical implications, illegal drugs would be made legal for adults. As things are, the laws are insane, as tobacco products are associated with more deaths than all illegal drugs combined (in the U.S.), which shows that the dangerousness of something does not determine whether something is legal or not.


hue-man;124416 wrote:
Can the sale of these substances be justified or condemned by any of the three most common ethical systems, such as deontology, utilitarianism or virtue theory?



Given that those are very broad categories, encompassing a wide range of views, one would likely be able to argue either way with any of those theories.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 01:14 am
@Pyrrho,
Is it morally permissible to aid a person in suicide, as long as the potential suicide victim is aware of the consequences of his actions?
 
rhinogrey
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 01:55 am
@hue-man,
Is it morally permissible to sell coca cola, since it contains high fructose corn syrup? How about french fries? How about genetically modified ingredients and foods exposed to pesticides and other chemicals? Shouldn't consumers be aware of the risks of these "foods" before buying?

All those things make people lazy, dumb and docile. Drugs make people harder to control. That's why they're illegal. There is nothing moral or immoral about drugs. The sale, of course, can be ethically evaluated: was there intentional misrepresentation involved, etc. But there's no moral argument to be made in specific reference to drug sale, and consumption is amoral--that is, it lack any moral status at all.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 02:48 am
@rhinogrey,
How is it that consumption lacks moral status?

Consumption is an activity. Ethical theories exist in order to tell us how and how not to act.

As consumption is an activity, ethical theories should have something to say about consumption.

I really don't think anyone believes that consumption is amoral. What about consuming veal? What about gluttony? What about consuming human flesh?
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 06:28 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;124602 wrote:
How is it that consumption lacks moral status?

Consumption is an activity. Ethical theories exist in order to tell us how and how not to act.

As consumption is an activity, ethical theories should have something to say about consumption.

I really don't think anyone believes that consumption is amoral. What about consuming veal? What about gluttony? What about consuming human flesh?
Yum Yum..Has the sale of drugs got anything to do with morals or the expedient necessity to control the consumption of it. Moral justification must be tempered with knowing that prohibition creates more moral dilemmas and crime ridden streets.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 08:20 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;124591 wrote:
Is it morally permissible to aid a person in suicide, as long as the potential suicide victim is aware of the consequences of his actions?


It's not the same situation at all. Nearly every edible product has the potential to cause harm or even kill a person. Should I not sell candy because it can cause diabetes? Should I not sell water because the person could potentially become water intoxicated?
 
Caroline
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 08:35 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;124628 wrote:
It's not the same situation at all. Nearly every edible product has the potential to cause harm or even kill a person. Should I not sell candy because it can cause diabetes? Should I not sell water because the person could potentially become water intoxicated?
But the nature of these products are not the same as say heroin which is far more addictive due to it's physical dependencies after the first try, candy a person can give up tomorrow where as cigarettes it is not so easy, why would a person drink himself to death, cigerettes are far more addictive, thus far more dangerous leading to death, there is a difference between the two therefore responsibilty should be exercised. I personally believe cigarettes shoud be bannned, what purpose do they serve? Selling water to quench ones thirst carries little to no risk.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 08:48 am
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:

Nearly every edible product has the potential to cause harm or even kill a person.


Walking down the street has the potential to cause death, but I think you have a higher chance of dying if you stand in the middle of a railroad track as a train is coming.

Clearly we must differentiate from those substances which are known to cause great, often immediate, harm on the body, and those which do not (and this is for starters). It is not just a matter of potential, at least not the loose sense of the word you seem to be employing. That everything has a miniscule chance of killing us, is no reason to consider all consumption equal.

xris wrote:

Yum Yum..Has the sale of drugs got anything to do with morals or the expedient necessity to control the consumption of it.


Of course the sale of drugs can have to do with morals. Would you feel right selling heroine to a twelve-year-old?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 08:57 am
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;124487 wrote:


However, I have no problems with the idea that adults should be allowed to buy and use substances that can cause harm to them, provided that there are appropriate warning labels on them. If we followed this idea to its logical implications, illegal drugs would be made legal for adults. As things are, the laws are insane, as tobacco products are associated with more deaths than all illegal drugs combined (in the U.S.), which shows that the dangerousness of something does not determine whether something is legal or not.





.



What it shows is that being dangerous is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition of legality, since there seem to be other necessary conditions. That doesn't make the laws "insane", though.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 09:11 am
@Caroline,
Caroline;124630 wrote:
But the nature of these products are not the same as say heroin which is far more addictive due to it's physical dependencies after the first try, candy a person can give up tomorrow where as cigarettes it is not so easy, why would a person drink himself to death, cigerettes are far more addictive, thus far more dangerous leading to death, there is a difference between the two therefore responsibilty should be exercised. I personally believe cigarettes shoud be bannned, what purpose do they serve? Selling water to quench ones thirst carries little to no risk.


I made those comparisons because Didymos Thomas wanted to get too broad and make a comparison between selling drugs (mainly speaking of alcohol and tobacco) and assisting someone to commit suicide.
 
Caroline
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 09:15 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;124639 wrote:
I made those comparisons because Didymos Thomas wanted to get too broad and make a comparison between selling drugs (mainly speaking of alcohol and tobacco) and assisting someone to commit suicide.

Ok, just wanted to make a point.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 3 Feb, 2010 09:19 am
@Caroline,
Caroline;124630 wrote:
I personally believe cigarettes shoud be bannned, what purpose do they serve? .


How about high calorie and high cholesterol causing food? How about forcing people to exercise? I can think of a lot of other unhealthy things that should be banned too. Why not hire our president to oversee it? He is good at telling people what to do.
 
 

 
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